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Frenchwoman abducted in Kenya dies weeks after kidnapping

The 66-year-old woman was taken from her rented house on a Kenyan island earlier this month by suspected Somali militants.

Kenyan soldiers patrol along the Somali border yesterday.
Kenyan soldiers patrol along the Somali border yesterday.
Image: STR/AP/Press Association Images

FRENCH FOREIGN ministry officials say that the 66-year-old Frenchwoman abducted by suspected Somali militants in Kenya earlier this month has died.

Marie Dedieu, who used a wheelchair and suffered heart problems, was taken from her rented home on the north Kenyan island of Manda and was brought over the Somali border after a shoot-out between her captors and Kenyan security forces.

It is not clear if her captors were part of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab or if they were pirates.

Spokesperson for the French foreign ministry Bernard Valero said in a statement today that “the contacts with whom we were working with to secure the release of Marie Dedieu have told us of her death”.

Further information on the date or circumstances of her death have not been confirmed, according to Kenya’s The Nation. Dedieu was taking medication for cancer and heart problems at the time of her abduction and her captors refused to give her medication provided to them by French officials for her use.

Her abduction came weeks after a British man was shot dead and his wife was kidnapped from a resort near Lamu, Kenya – the same area Dedieu was staying in. Two Spanish aid workers were taken from a refugee camp in Kenya last week by gunmen believed to be Somali militants.

The three women have not been heard from since their abduction. Kenyan officials have blamed al-Shabab for the kidnappings.

Kenya has launched a cross-border security operation to target Somali militants. The militant group al-Shabab responded to the Kenyan troop action with warnings of retaliatory bomb attacks in Kenya. The group said that the “bloody battles that will ensure as a result of this incursion will most likely disrupt the social equilibrium and imperil the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs advises against “against all travel in North East Kenya within 150 miles of the Somali border including all coastal areas of Lamu District where there is a high risk of kidnapping and attack”. It also warns that beachfront accommodation and small sailing boats in this area are particularly vulnerable to attack.

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